Social constructionism is a core concept in sociology, so strongly integrated in every society globally, that it has affected the way we all think. Social constructionism displays the fact that the social world is not natural, it is not revealed, and it’s not even fully determined. It is completely made up by people, who also continue to transmit and cultivate such views. Everything that we have learned, that has not originated from our own senses, intuition, or reasoning we have learned from other people.
5% of what we know, we have accepted from others, which is why some say that even our own reasoning is influenced by those around us. Essentially, social constructionism explains how and why we give everything reason, from feminine beauty, to race, even our own selves. Social construction is the process whereby people continuously create, through their actions and interactions, a shared reality that’s as experienced as objectively factual and subjectively meaningful. Meaning itself is functionally dependent, abstract, and contingent it can be easily changed.
Our social world is completely constructed by us, we give things and objects meaning, because we as a collective society agree that they must exist. Making it easier for us to understand this crazy world we are living in. Also it creates universal social norms, making it simple for anyone to adapt anywhere you go; and these norms, because of social construction, have changed and will continue to change throughout history, by the deconstruction and reconstruction of the social reality.
The thought that reality as we know isn’t real, terrifies eople. Individually, the actual understanding of social construction, can sometimes cause an existential crisis. Once people understand that we only have meaning because we’ve given ourselves purpose, they tend to become a little depressed. On the other hand, it can be liberating knowing we all have the power to actually change the world as a single person, but even faster as a society. If we can change how something is viewed by the majority, we can essentially change the definition, thus changing the purpose.
Take the institution of marriage for example, though it has changed all through history these past 70 years it has been strictly seen as between only one man and one woman. But as the agreement, that marriage should be between two people that love each other, no matter what race, or gender, became widespread, the definition of marriage changed. Which led to the spread of tolerance, acceptance, and even the changing of laws. Eventually, the definition of marriage will change again maybe allowing you to marry as many people as you’d like. Who knows?
That’s just the cycle of society we change the meaning of things to fit the purpose needed at that time. For me personally, I had never realized that we constructed reality. The first thing I thought of, when I finally understood constructionism, is how this idea of femininity has been thrust upon women. I’m at the marrying age, where my family is expecting a proposal any day now. Unfortunately, it seems the best way to explain to males that you seek their affection is by being a woman. Women aren’t born, females become one; and to make things even more difficult there is no one ideal, to which all women should conform.
Biology plays a role; it explains why men’s experiences tend to be very different, but what it is to be a woman is socially constructed largely by males and through other people’s expectations and assumptions. Society believes that as a woman I’m suppose to strive after beauty. A beauty that has been defined by men’s view of what they desire women to be, often denying all women’s capacity of action and thought. There have been different ideals of feminine beauty during different times and different places but the constant throughout history, has been that women are to be passive objects whose bodies are emphasized and displayed.
To obtain such ideals woman are suppose to use these artifice to look ornamental, and disguise the more animal aspects of our bodies, such as body hair, because men find it unacceptable. These ideas start to be ingrained at a very young age, and we are constantly being reminded of the standard, which does horrible things to a teenager girl’s self esteem. Women should be able to define their own beauty, we all come in different shapes and packages. When we create a mold and call it an ideal, the multitude that won’t fit, get “discarded” socially.
I know first hand, how truly awful it is when people treat you differently based on appearance. To think that this whole reality we have right now can be completely different in just a few short years is exciting. What people don’t realize is its up to them, if they don’t like something change it. I guarantee if you feel you are a victim of a social injustice, thousands of others do too. All you need is one voice to start the change. One person that won’t stand for it any longer. One person that understands that we created it to be one way and we can change it with a little help. Change is daunting but it is well worth the liberation.